Chris-O'Dell

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Today in Harri History, George & Pattie Harrison attend the opening party for Apple Tailoring held at Club Arethusa, a restaurant on Kings Road,  22 May 1968. The following excerpt is from Chris O’Dell’s book, “ Miss O'Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and the Women They Loved“

“I’ve always liked sitting back & observing people, & George in particular, fascinated me. I watched him chatting with Derek & Don, his dark eyes intently focused, the thick eyebrows almost touching in the middle, and ever so often he’d look over at me & smile; I had the feeling he was reassuring me that I had nothing to fear from this group. George had this interesting way of keeping his distance from people. Occasionally his eyes would dart around the room, not so much to see what was happening, it seemed to me, but more as a self protective “don’t come any closer” look. It was almost as if he was creating boundaries with his eyes. And it worked because nobody bothered us.”

“That’s what I was thinking when Pattie Harrison appeared at the table and sat next to George, almost directly across from me. I’m afraid I stared at her for a moment in disbelief. Back in L.A. when I was thinking about moving to London, I’d sometimes play a little game in front of my bathroom mirror. I’d imagine that Pattie & I were friends, sitting in her kitchen, laughing & talking about silly things, sharing our secrets. I know this all may seem like I am making all this up after the fact, but it’s the truth — I did daydream about being friends with Pattie long before I met her, and I had other dreams that came true, too.

But this was real life. I felt stupid sitting there watching everyone else talking & interacting. I needed to start a conversation & connect with someone, if only to justify my place at the table. ‘I love the way you do your makeup’ I blurted out to Pattie. She looked confused, even a little flustered. ‘Thank you’ she said after what seemed like an eternity.Well you’re in it now, I thought. Might as well keep the conversation going. ‘Do you think you might someday show me how to do your makeup?’ I said stumbling a little over my words. Again she smiled at me, looking more amused than annoyed. Still, I was painfully aware that I was straddling a fine line between making a friend and making a complete fool of myself. ‘I’m a friend of Derek’s’ I said, ‘I just moved to London last week so I don’t know very many people. Perhaps we could get together sometime.’ I couldn’t believe my own audacity.

‘Yes’ she said, looking very queenly in her poise & stature. ‘That’s a possibility’ Well that was enough for me. I didn’t need a time, a date, or a place. All I needed was the possibility of spending an hour or two with Pattie Harrison.

The waiters were clearing the lunch plates, wineglasses were refilled, photographers & journalists jockeyed for position, & the hum of conversation died down as we turned our chairs to face the runway.”

‘I was surprised, actually, to discover that George was so attractive in person. I’d always thought of Paul as the cute one, but up close George was ruggedly handsome, even striking, with his long hair curling up just above the shoulders, his face smooth and clear, and those dark, intense eyes. But it was definitely his smile that hooked me-this incredibly sexy, crooked grin, almost a friendly sneer (like Elvis, I thought) that etched little lines in his cheeks, bringing your attention simultaneously to his heart-shaped face and his slightly crooked teeth.‘ - Chris O’Dell, ‘Miss O'Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and the Women They Loved”

Remembering George ♥ 1943-2001

[Chris O'Dell] came home with George late one night. He had asked her to live with us for a bit to help with the house—and I confess I was miffed. I was convinced he was playing around big-time and that any girl who came into our lives was an immediate threat. Whatever nice noises they made to me, I knew that they wanted George. As a result, I had virtually no girlfriends. Jenny [Boyd] was the only one I knew I could trust. So when Chris walked in through the front door, looking like Goldie Hawn and chatting confidently with George and Kevin, the new roadie, I guessed he had brought her home because he intended to sleep with her.

Chris and I got on well together; we cooked, went into Henley to do the shopping, and hung out together, and it was all good fun. I liked her, I wanted to be her friend, and she clearly wanted to be mine. That made me even more frightened: I knew that if George came on to her I would lose her. I decided to bite the bullet. “Chris,” I said, “I’d really like to be your friend, and—I’m sorry, I’ve never said this to anyone in my life before—you will only be my friend as long as you don’t let George have you.”

“Okay,” she said, “that’s a deal. I’d rather be your friend.” And we still are friends. And, of course, George tried—she told me, so she was clearly someone I could trust.
—  Pattie Boyd, Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me (2007)
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Scan - George Harrison and Bob Dylan playing tennis, Isle of Wight, 1969, from George’s camera.

Scanned from Living in the Material World

Photo © The Harrison Family

“I really like George.” - Bob Dylan to Chris O’Dell, 1975; Miss O’Dell: Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton
 
“George got stuck with being the Beatle that had to fight to get songs on records because of Lennon and McCartney. Well, who wouldn’t get stuck?”

“If George had had his own group and was writing his own songs back then, he’d have been probably just as big as anybody.” - Bob Dylan, NME, 2007

“[George] was also Bob Dylan’s biggest fan. He could quote the lyrics to practically any Dylan song you could come up with.” - Jim Keltner, Rolling Stone, 2002

“George quoted Bob like people quote Scripture. Bob really adored George, too. George used to hang over the balcony videoing Bob while Bob wasn’t aware of it. Bob would be sitting at the piano playing, and George would tape it and listen to it all night.”
Q: “So George had his own private Dylan bootlegs?”
TP: “Yeah. One day George was hiding in the hedge at the house where we were recording. As everybody flew off, George would rise up out of the bushes with his video going. And he did that with Bob.” - Tom Petty, Rolling Stone, 2002 [x]

“He’s fantastic, you know. There’s not a lot of people in the world who I see from a historical point of view. Five hundred years grom now, looking back in history, I think he will still be the man, Bob, he just takes the cake.” - George Harrison, 1987 [x]

“I’ve always liked the way George Harrison plays guitar - restrained and good.” - Bob Dylan

“They had a soul connection.” - Olivia Harrison on George and Bob, Rolling Stone, 2011

“He was a giant, a great, great soul, with all the humanity, all the wit and humor, all the wisdom, the spirituality, the commen sense of a man and compassion for people. He inspired love and had the strength of a hundred men.
He was like the sun, the flowers and the moon, and we will miss him enormously. The world is a profoundly emptier place without him.” - Bob Dylan on George Harrison, Rolling Stone, 2002 [x]

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Happy Anniversary, George and Olivia! :)

I must confess, they’re my favourite Beatle couple. I’m not sure if this will make sense, but Olivia said something once which really struck me. It was in an interview for Vanity Fair while she was promoting the Living in the Material World documentary. Speaking about George’s reaction to the knife attack in 1999, this is what she said:

“He told me that his mind focused on letting go, leaving his body in the way that he wanted to go. He thought that he was being murdered, and he didn’t want to die on someone else’s terms. He told me, ‘I was lying there, thinking, I can’t believe this is happening! Well, I’d better just start getting with God, preparing.’ I was just so impressed by George when he told me that that was what he’d been thinking, but I was not ready to be killed. That’s when I came in with the fire poker.”

I found this so touching because I think it shows that Olivia truly understood him in ways that I don’t think most other people would/did. It warms my heart knowing he was able to find someone as wonderful as her.

"When George and Pattie separated in 1973, Harrison began having phone conversations with Olivia Trinidad Arias, a young woman who worked at the LA office of his label, Dark Horse Records. ‘He told me that he had his chart done and his chart told him that he would meet a dark woman and he assumed it would be an Indian woman,’ says Chris O’Dell. ‘So when he met Olivia it was almost ordained by the gods. The first night he flew [to LA] that was it. I don’t think they were ever apart after the first night.’
An LA native, Olivia was beautiful, intelligent, and on her own spiritual path. ‘George was troubled when I met him,’ says Olivia. ‘Everything in his life had changed at that point: getting divorced, Apple was in turmoil, he had his own personal demons. ‘74 was one of those breaking-through-the-sound-barrier periods. You come through and it’s just quiet on the other side.’” - MOJO (Nov. 2011)

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“She’s been a very calming influence on me. We’re blissfully happy” - George Harrison quote

“We were just very simpatico to each other” - Olivia Harrison quote

Rolling Stone (Mick Brown): You met your wife, Olivia, at the end of what seems to have been a pretty low period for you personally – 1974.

George: Yeah, well after I split up from Patti [Boyd, Harrison’s first wife], I went on a bit of a bender to make up for all the years I’d been married. If you listen to “Simply Shady,” on Dark Horse, it’s all in there – my whole life at that time was a bit like [laughing] Mrs. Dale’s Diary [a now defunct British radio soap opera].

Rolling Stone (Mick Brown)::Were you going down fast?

George: Well, I wasn’t ready to join Alcoholics Anonymous or anything – I don’t think I was that far gone – but I could put back a bottle of brandy occasionally, plus all the other naughty things that fly around. I just went on a binge, went on the road … all that sort of thing, until it got to the point where I had no voice and almost no body at times. Then I met Olivia and it all worked out fine. There’s a song on the new album, “Dark Sweet Lady”: “You came and helped me through/When I’d let go/You came from out the blue/Never have known what I’d done without you.” That sums it up.’ -Rolling Stone interview ‘A Conversation With George Harrison -The 'Fab Four’ is done for, and George couldn’t be happier doing his own thing'  by Mick Brown published, April 19, 1979

“He was a person that I had a great connection with. He also had a great sense of humor. And he was very serious and he aspired to a higher kind of consciousness, a higher life.” -Olivia Harrison quote


“I never saw them have a row"  - Kenny Lynch

“He seemed so happy in those days,especially when he was with Olivia. I was surprised to see how affectionate he was with Olivia, holding hands, heads touching as they talked, snuggling up next to her at every opportunity…I liked Olivia, but she had two insurmountable disadvantages. She wasn’t Pattie. That was the big one. But I was also jealous of George’s attention to her…But Olivia was his new love, and he was clearly heads over heels, spending all his spare time with her and creating a little invisible wall that separated them from the rest of us.” –Chris O’Dell from her book “Miss O’Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and the Women They Loved”

“They were always holding hands. Every time she picked up a cigarette, Ringo would suddenly appear next to her with his silver lighter. He’d look at her adoringly, she’d look at him lovingly, and when she exhaled, she’d lower her eyes as if the moment was too intimate even for a man and a woman who had been married for four years. They were crazy about each other, no doubt about that…their casual intimacy assured me that it is possible to keep a love story going even after several years of marriage. ‘True love really is possible,’ I found myself thinking.” -Chris O'Dell

George and the events of Christmas 1973

This is another post I write with great reluctance but feel I need to as I do feel that George and especially Maureen Starkey get a very rough time on this topic, particularly here on tumblr

By the ‘Events of Christmas 1973’ I am of course refering to the alleged relationship between George and Maureen Starkey that occured around Christmas 1973. Before I go any further I want to make clear that none of us knows exactly what happened or ever will. However, as Hunter Davies says in his introduction to the most recent edition to his offical biography of the Beatles the fact that Pattie Boyd, Chris O'Dell and Cynthia Lennon all discuss these events and their fall out in their autobiographies is a strong indicaton something happened. But as Hunter Davies also goes on to say, all these accounts have come out after George and Maureen have died and they are not in a position to comment on them or defend themselves.

I am not condoning or making light of anything that might have occurred. But I do feel that the situation was very complicated and that condemning others is not helpful. Adultery and martial break downs are painful but are sadly part of life. I have not had first experinece of either but have seen many family members and friends go through both.

As others have discussed, in the world the Harrisons and Starkeys moved in the 1970s there were a lot of unhealthly things going on. There was a lot of substance and alcohol abuse and unhealthly attitudes to sexual relationships. Many other people in George, Pattie, Ringo and Maureen’s circle behaved a lot worse. Some still have not outgrown the attitudes of these days.

Both the Harrisons and Starkeys marriages were in trouble by this point for a number of reasons. Both George and Pattie had been together for almost a decade and Ringo and Maureen had been together about 12 years. In this period they had gone through the extraordinary events of the Beatles careers. Then they had gone through the fall out from the Beatles split. Any marriage would have a hard time surviving this. All four had also become different people. All probably knew in their hearts that their marriages were coming to and end. As I noted in my recent post that Pattie wrote in ‘Wonderful Tonight’ that George suggested they get divorced around this time. I have written this before but this does not invalidate either George and Pattie’s or Ringo and Maureen’s marriages. The length of their relationships testifies to the fact they cared about each other.

George had gone through a number of traumatic events in the preceding three years. He had seen his beloved mother die an protracted and painful death at an early age. He was trying to create a home at Friar Park. Also, the fall out from the Beatles split did hit him hard as the songs 'Sue Me, Sue You Blues’ and 'Living in the Material World’ show. George was dealing with a lot and those who condemn him never take this into account.

Maureen also was trying to deal with Ringo’s personal issues, often taking the brunt of them. She too obviously was in a lot of emotional pain. She was apparently so distraught at the end of her marriage to Ringo that Cynthia Lennon reported she drove a motorcycle into a wall. I also think it is important to take into account Chris O'Dells account of Maureen’s meeting with George and John in late 1974. Maureen told both George and John about her distress at the end of her marriage and she said that it was Ringo’s personal issues that brought their marriage to an end. (Note that she did not blame George for anything and that they remained friends).

While some may say that George and Maureen’s apparent openess about what was happening may seem cruel, I feel that at least they were not being hypocritical and were actually giving Pattie and Ringo a chance to consider what was going on and why.

I also fully appreciate both Pattie and Ringo had issues they were trying to deal with in this period.

It is important to note that when the Starkeys split in 1974, apparently Ringo allowed Maureen to sue him for divorce.

I also feel it is very important how events played out over the long term. This hardly ever is done. George and Ringo remained close friends (indeed Ringo has called George 'a best friend’), and actually worked together in 1974 on 'Photograph’. George and Pattie remained friends. While Ringo and Maureen had a complex and often difficult relationship after their divorce, but they became friends and Ringo, along with Jason, Zak and Lee along Maureen’s second husband Isaac Tigrett and their daughter Augusta were by Maureen’s side when she died in 1994.

In the end, all four parties would go on to find new love. George would go on to find Olivia, Pattie had her relationship with Eric and is now happy with Rod, Maureen would marry Isaac Tigrett and Ringo and Barbara are going strong after 34 years of marriage. So it all worked out. That in the end is the most important thing.

Sex, drugs, and Rock N’ Roll. A look into the life of 6 of the most famous groupies of all time.

Part 5 of 6

Chris O'Dell

Born in the late 40’s, Chris worked as an assistant for Apple Records back in her 20’s. She was George Harrison’s muse behind “Miss O’Dell”, and sang the last chorus in “Hey Jude”. She is often referred as a “Super-Groupie” due to the fact that she slept with Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr.  

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Today in Harri History, 9 April 1969, George took part in a photo session in London. One of the photographers was Bruce McBroom.

“He smelled so good always. I could never quite figure out how he did it. He always smelled like sandalwood. Everything, from his hair down.” - Chris O'Dell, excerpted from the book, “Behind That Locked Door” by author, Graeme Thomson

I just loved the way George hit the ‘g’ notes at the end of a word. ‘Drag’ became drag-uh. ‘Thing’ became thing-uh. ‘Strong’ became strong-uh.
—  Chris O’Dell on George Harrison, Miss O’Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and the Women They Loved